Over 100 vehicles were vandalized early Tuesday morning in a suspected hate crime in the predominately Christian Arab town of Gush Halav, also known as Jish, in the Upper Galilee.
Graffiti in Hebrew saying “Jews wake up” and “stop the assimilation” was also spray painted on several buildings in the town, including a mosque. Police said it opened an investigation into the matter as a possible hate crime.
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Almost 170 cars had their tires slashed, “an entire neighborhood,” mayor Elias Elias told Haaretz. “I don’t know why we are a target. This is the second time in seven months,” he added.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned "the graffiti and the destruction of property in the village of Jish." He said, "We will find the perpetrators and we will comply with the law. We are not prepared to accept any attacks on our citizens."
Kahol Lavan chairman Benny Gantz also responded, calling the disruption in Jish a "racist and shocking act." Gantz added that he "trusts law enforcement agencies to locate the culprits and find them guilty."
In July, 23 cars were vandalized, with accompanying graffiti clearly identifying it as retaliation for the prosecution of right-wing activists.
“This is an unpleasant feeling. I don’t know why such people need to inflict fear on the entire community,” said Elias. “We are a quiet community. The bodies that are supposed to enforce the law are not helping.”
Amira Halihal, a resident of the eastern neighborhood of the town, said the tires of her family’s two cars were slashed. “It is a very harsh sight, especially because this is the second time. We have seen it a few times before and have not heard of any arrests or actions taken that could deter whoever is doing it,” she added.
Security cameras revealed that the suspects arrived in the town between 2:30 and 3 A.M., said Halihal. “We don’t know where these people are coming from but that’s the police’s job, and not our job as residents,” she said.
"[Israeli Police] will act with all means available, along with other bodies, to locate and identify the suspects and bring them to justice,” the police said, adding that they take all nationalist hate crimes seriously and “condemn them."
The Tag Meir anti-racism organization said Jewish terror incidents, often labeled as “price tag” attacks, against Gush Halav must be condemned vehemently. “Jewish terror activists must be stopped immediately,” the organization said.